TRAVEL WITH MY DAUGHTER

 

My wife and I recently watched the Netflix series Travels with My Father, a comedy shows in which Jack Whitehall and his father, Michael Whitehall, travel to various countries around the world, encountering comical and interesting situations. We enjoyed their interactions, funny jokes, as well as interesting cultural specifics from the countries visited. This program reminded me of the travels I undertook with my daughters touring different countries or regions of America.

Both daughters are now adults with all the benefits and responsibilities that adulthood brings with it. My relationship with them have changed due to a spun of time weaved from the threads of different life circumstances. We are not in geographical proximity, so our encounters are rare, especially in the last two years, due to the pandemic. When we see each other, it’s a big celebration. Over the years, there were opportunities when I went on a trip with one of them. Special events that carry a deep meaning and experiences that are very different from gatherings in a larger family group. I never had similar happenings with my father or my mother. The situation is probably similar in other families. My wife tells me that this is almost the case with her as well. She never traveled alone with her father and only once with her mother.

I recently visited my younger daughter together with my wife. At the same time, the family of her boyfriend came to visit. A full house. Eventful time spent in getting to know each other, socializing, exploring tourists’ destinations, joint dinners, and rare moments alone with the daughter. So I suggested I visit her again, this time alone, with the idea of ​​the two of us crisscrossing the state of Maine, her new home. She was thrilled and soon she threw herself into planning our itinerary. Finally came the long-awaited day, which began with my long journey from southwest to northeast of the North American continent.

  The ten-day stay was filled with walks by the ocean, going to the Monhegan island, visits to art galleries, bookstores, a national park, and a museum of gems, minerals, and meteorites. We enjoyed the woods with leaves featuring a palette of autumn colors, restaurants with a variety of specialties, and a tour of the city of Portland endowed with cobbled streets, old brick buildings, the waterfront, many shops, bars, and museums. I marked the trip with numerous photos and videos, a kind of visual diary.

Now I am sitting at the airport in Portland, waiting to board the plane that will take me back to Arizona. I write a note in the diary about impressions of spending time with my daughter, meeting of two adults. I wonder if I behaved differently than when she was a child or a teenager? Of course, there are still patterns established in the past that are easily activated, where my parent’s ego-state wants to dominate and is mirrored by my daughter’s regressive ego-state of a child. But I became aware of another core, somewhat hidden but still present, the core of a new relationship in which she wants to be treated as an adult who does not need the protection of her father; independent, competent, able to make mature decisions, and to express her views with confidence. I was interested in her opinion on this topic. She briefly commented that she was the one who had arranged all aspects of our trip and managed the navigation system so as not to get lost in the forests, mountains and valleys that permeate the state of Maine. I immediately agreed with her assessment and praised the efficiency she frequently demonstrated, adult in action.

How did I cope with this new adult to adult type of relationship between two of us? By nature, I am not a person who has a tendency for control and dominance, which is the case with my daughter as well, so we easily resolved situations by communicating and negotiating. We tried to respect the unique aspects of each other personality, which my daughter calls “bubice”, using Serbian word for “bugs”, and approached potential conflicts of this kind with humor, instead of reacting with frustration and anger. There were times when I projected worrying care she sensed and openly let me know when my anxiety affected her state of being at the moment. I was grateful to her and praised her ability to react in a timely manner. It’s not easy. We both have a tendency to avoid hurting the other person’s feelings, which is not a good strategy because unresolved conflicts accumulate, and the charge of energy does not disappear but lead to future explosion when the “glass is full”.

This tendency of ours was especially tested in a situation in which her boyfriend demanded one thing from her, and I demanded the opposite. She found herself in a crossroads between the two most important male figures in her life. How to satisfy both (impossible), and not hurt either (again impossible)?!! An unenviable position, a dilemma that would lead almost every person to a suffering state. Neither her boyfriend nor I gave up on our demands. The daughter’s emotional state was at its peak, but she reacted in the best possible way after a long telephone conversation with the boyfriend and my somewhat calmer and conciliatory attitude. I think that we have all learned from this situation, and do not “carry” in ourselves a “toxic grain” which, if it settles in the inner psychic space, tends to germinate and grow into a poisonous plant ready for mischief.

Separation from our life partners was a novelty for both of us, as well as, for her boyfriend and my wife. That is why we understood the mutual need for daily telephone contacts with them. Although we have not discussed this in detail and explicitly, we have implicitly understood that it is a healthy way of acknowledging the reality and importance of these other relationships in our lives. I did not feel possessiveness and prying curiosity. I respected her privacy and loyalty she has towards the boyfriend.

  We had many conversations that helped me better understand her worldview, philosophy of life, interests, plans, and psychological structure. I share an interest in books with her, so we found ourselves in the bookstores with old and new books and spent hours immersed in browsing and reading. Non-acceptance of the culture of corporate America, commercialization, environmental pollution, and the desire for a healthy life was a frequent topic of our talks. I admired my daughter’s knowledge and ability to organize her life by adhering to the principles of connecting with the natural world, relying on food produced with her own hands or by the efforts of local organizations, crafting her livelihoods, and living with intent, purposefulness, and sustainability. Her passion is the desire to work towards a better future for herself, the community, and the planet. I could not help but look back at the life decisions I made guided by other people’s desires, the urge to survive, and adapt to the currents of contemporary dominant culture, and compare them with the decisions she made and still is making. For example, after graduating, she began a career in the Hollywood film industry but soon realized that was not in line with her true desires. Her health deteriorated under the influence of California traffic, long working hours, stress, and pollution. She began to dream of living in a place where the natural environment is closer, people are authentic, the corporations are absent, and local food plentiful and affordable. So at the age of 25 she left a lucrative job with good prospects and moved to Maine where in a short time she created a life that fills her with joy and rootedness.

I had known from before that she was a good dreamer with vivid dreams influencing her daily life, but I did not sufficiently understand the meaning and importance of her dreams. After waking up, the first thing she does is write down dreams, sometimes talk about them, analyze them with trusted people, listen to messages coming from the depths of the personal and transpersonal dimension, and incorporate them into the creative writing process. Night and daydreams have contributed her personal development, influenced the direction of her life, and reflected the symbolism of a personal and universal nature that often surprises me. Compared to her, my dream life is scarce and uninspiring.

  I am a little surprised that she distances herself from the modern worldview. When I asked her about it, she said, “I think this might be because I’ve lately gone through a phase of feeling disillusioned with the modern worldview because I used to hold it so vehemently. I’ll probably change in the future, but I find it to be a hyper-masculine way of looking at the world, and I’m trying to grow from that.” And not by advocating feminism, because she believes that feminism uses masculine methods in the fight for equal rights for women and men. She identifies more with the divine feminine archetype as the embodiment of the highest expression of feminine energy represented through virtues such as beauty, love, sexuality, motherhood, creativity, and fertility. It is a universal, timeless, and mythological representation of a woman that is not tied to any culture or political moment. Names from Greek mythology such as Artemis, Aphrodite, Athena, Gaia, Hera, and others come to mind. Of course, many other religions and traditions have their representatives, but I will not deal with that in this text. She recommended the book The Way of the Rose, which I bought with the desire to start reading it as soon as possible. It will be my introduction in the divine feminine energy hidden in the rosary, the ancient devotion tapping into the powerful healing rhythms of the natural world.

  My daughter is 40 years younger than I, athletically built, a runner, a swimmer, and a horse rider. In her youth she was also a ballerina, so as a result she maintains a proper and graceful posture. Her physical fitness is better than mine even though I am quite active. This was especially evident on the island when we went on a circular hike along the edge of the ocean, using the so-called goat trails. It was a risky and arduous journey, and fortunately it passed without injuries but for me with muscle soreness from which I am still recovering. The daughter has become somewhat aware that our difference of forty years affects my vitality, although she would like me to increase it and find in myself the energy and playfulness of my younger days.

I will continue to think and build a “the house of bricks” from my experiences of this journey, but I will stop writing and end this text with a recommendation for all parents and children. I advise you to find the time you spend alone (one parent with one child) regardless of life circumstances. It is a unique experience that will be etched into the emotional regions of the brain as a particularly memorable experience that lasts a lifetime. As can be understood from my writing, the age of the child and the parent is not important, the time spent together is always blessed and imbued with love and deeper understanding.

4 comments on “TRAVEL WITH MY DAUGHTER

  1. This warms my heart! I’m going to make this happen, a trip for my father and me. He’s my favorite human, my first love, my hero, and the reason I ever loved any part of myself! Thank you, Dr.Leon.

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